This website tracks present lightning strikes and includes a database of past lightning, using colored dots on a world map to show the locations of strikes. The map on the homepage updates almost in real-time, with a delay of only a second or two, allowing you to see lightning as it strikes in Europe, Oceania, or North America. You can also use the website to see past lightning strikes in each of the regions, and you can view this information either as still images or in animations that show the lightning throughout a given day. In addition to documenting the lightning strikes themselves, the website also keeps track of the density of strikes, or how many strikes are occurring in close proximity to each other, and information on the the number of strikes that have occurred within any month in 2011 or later and for each full year in 2011 or later is also available.
The content of this website relates to our course in that it allows for a visual representation of storm systems through the electrical charges they produce. For example, when I looked at the real-time animation, the enormous number of lightning strikes occurring in the Gulf of Mexico indicated there was probably a large storm or storm system in the Gulf at that time. Similar evidence suggested to me there probably was a storm occurring in far Southeastern Australia. This website, examined over a period of time, would allow for an increased understanding of the trends affecting the development of storms likely to produce lightning. Such storms may be from larger systems, such as midlatitude cyclones, or they could be the result of isolated convection patterns in areas such as beaches, cities, and cropland. Nevertheless, the representation of lightning overlaid on a map allows for an understanding of where lightning-producing events tend to occur, and in which locations larger storm systems are likely to cause lightning and in which locations it is more likely that an isolated event is the cause. Additionally, the graphs available on lightning patterns over a period of months or years provide the opportunity to observe any trends in lightning strikes that may take place over time and to determine in which parts of the year lightning tends to strike the most.
Savannah, this is really fascinating! I never thought about a resource to track lightning tracks but actually it could be a really useful tool. Not only could it allow for meteorologists to understand what storms produce lightning, it could also allow cities to understand if their areas are disproportionately affected by lightning. This information could inform towns and cities about storm management and they could inform their citizens to take precautions.